Political ideologies in the United States

Political ideologies in the United States vary considerably. Persons in the U.S. generally classify themselves either as adhering to American liberalism, American conservatism or as moderates. American liberalism aims at the preservation and extension of human, social and civil rights as well as the government guaranteed provision of positive rights. It combines social progressivism and to some extent, ordoliberalism and is highly similar to European social liberalism of parties like the British Liberal Democrats, Dutch Democrats 66 and Belgian Flemish Liberals and Democrats. American conservatism commonly refers to a combination of economic liberalism and social conservatism and to an extent, libertarianism. It aims at protecting traditional values (especially on social issues) while promoting the concept of small government. these classifications do not accurately reflect the ideological diversity of American society. The ideological position a person or party takes may be described in terms of social and economic policy. The ideological positions a person assumes on social and economic policy issues may differ in their position on the political spectrum. Milton Friedman, for example, was left-of-center on social issues but right-of-center on fiscal matters.cite web|url=http://www.politicalcompass.org/|title=Political Compass. (8 July, 2007). "The Political Compass".|accessdate=2007-07-13] Several ideological demographics may be identified in addition to or as subgroups of liberals and conservatives with nearly every possible ideology being found in the general population. The U.S. has a de facto two-party system. The Democratic Party generally represents liberal ideals, while the Republican Party commonly represents conservative ideals. As of 2004, the Democratic Party had 77 million registered members, followed by 55 million Republicans and 42 million independents, including those with other party affiliations.cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/columnist/neuharth/2004-01-22-neuharth_x.htm|title=Neuhart, P. (22 January, 2004). Why politics is fun from catbirds' seats. "USA Today".|accessdate=2007-07-11] Smaller parties such as the Libertarian Party and the Greens play a minor role in American politics and are not deemed able to capture the presidency.cite web|url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19391237/site/newsweek/|title=Thomas, E. & Darman, J. (2 July, 2007). Bloomberg's Knightly Ambitions. "Newsweek".|accessdate=2007-07-13]

The size of ideological groups varies slightly depending on the poll. According to a 2007 poll, 35% of Americans identified as moderate, 36% as "conservative" and 25% as "liberal."cite web|url=http://www.bipartisandisorder.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/ap-ipsos-thompson.pdf|title=Ipos Public affairs. (6 June, 2007). Associate Press Poll conducted by Ipos Public Affairs: Party Affiliation and Ideology.|accessdate=2007-07-13] In a 2005 study, the Pew Research Center identified nine typological groups. Three groups were identified as part of each, "the left," "the middle," and "the right." In this categorization system, "the right" roughly represents the Republican base, those on the "the left" the Democratic base and those in "the middle" independents. Within the left are the largely secular and anti-war "Liberals", the socially conservative but fiscally left-leaning "Conservative Democrats", and the economically "Disadvantaged Democrats" who favor an extended welfare state. In "the middle" are the optimistic and upwardly mobile "Upbeats", the discouraged and mistrusting "Disaffecteds," and the disenfranchised "Bystanders." The right compromises the highly pro-business "Enterprisers," the highly religious "Social Conservatives" (also known as the Christian right), and the "Pro-Government Conservatives" who are largely conservative on social issues but support government intervention to better their economic disposition.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13]

Typological groups

Prominent ideologies

Liberalism and conservatism are the most common ideologies in the U.S. apart from those who identify as moderate. Individuals embrace each ideology to widely varying extents. Liberals and progressives commonly advocate strong civil liberties, social progressivism, cultural pluralism, government ensuring of positive rights (education, health care, etc...) and a mixed economy.Starr, P. (2007). War and Liberalism. The New Republic, 236, 21-24.] Conservatives commonly defend the status quo, advocating more traditional stands on social issues, protection of gun rights and less government intervention.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13] Moderates, who may be left or right leaning, incorporate different aspects from liberalism and conservatism into their personal perspective. According to recent polls moderates are commonly identified as the second largest group, closely trailing conservatives, constituting between 36% and 39% of the population.cite web|url=http://www.bipartisandisorder.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/ap-ipsos-thompson.pdf|title=Ipos Public affairs. (6 June, 2007). Associate Press Poll conducted by Ipos Public Affairs: Party Affiliation and Ideology.|accessdate=2007-07-13] [cite web|url=http://www.nationalcenter.org/WCT012004.html|title=Ridenour, A. (20 January, 2004). Political Philosophy: Are Americans More Liberal Than They Realize? "National Center for Public Policy Research".|accessdate=2007-06-23] Moderates are commonly defined through limiting the extent to which they adopt liberal and conservative ideas. CNN exit polls have found moderates to be rather evenly divided between the country's two main parties.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/index.epolls.html|title=CNN. (2000). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2004). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2006). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] Even though liberals are the most educated and affluent ideological demographic, moderates tend to become increasingly conservative with increased economic prosperity,cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13] causing the professional class to be split between Republicans and Democrats.cite web|url=http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2003/07/11/dean/index.html|title=Judis, B. J. (11 July, 2003). The trouble with Howard Dean. "Salon.com".|accessdate=2007-07-19] Among those who do identify as either liberal or conservative few identify as "far left" or "far right." Most Americans either identify as "moderate" or as "somewhat" liberal or conservative.cite web|url=http://www.bipartisandisorder.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/ap-ipsos-thompson.pdf|title=Ipos Public affairs. (6 June, 2007). Associate Press Poll conducted by Ipos Public Affairs: Party Affiliation and Ideology.|accessdate=2007-07-13] While often not mentioned in major polls and less organized than liberal or conservatives, Libertarians are a significant minority, constituting roughly 13% of the electorate. Libertarians commonly hold liberal views on social issues but conservative views on economic issues. Since the 1980s a majority of Libertarians have favored the Republican Party, although in recent years, the margin favoring the Republicans has begun to shrink because of the Libertarian's opposition to many recent Republican supported social issues.cite web|url=http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa580.pdf|title=Boaz, D. & Kirby, D. (18 October, 2006). Policy Analysis: The Libertarian Vote. "Cato Institute".|accessdate=2007-07-24]

Liberalism

Liberalism in the U.S. is most commonly characterized by a mixture of social liberalism and progressivism, with a strong (if frequently unrecognized) ordoliberal streak. Less frequently it may also describe forms of classic and neoliberalism. Liberals in the United States advocate strong civil liberties and social progressivism according to which societal practices need to be changed whenever necessary for the greater good of society or the benefits of those who wish to engage in those social arrangements. They believe that government action is needed in order for people to be as free as possible. Government must thereby ensure the provision of positive rights, protect civil liberties and ensure equality. American liberals commonly reject both laissez-faire capitalism and socialism as means to distribute economic resources. A mixed economy, that is a capitalist free market economy with limited government regulation and intervention is seen as the ideal. Recently, there has been a strong movement among liberals against corporate welfare, which is generally favored by pro-government conservatives. Cultural pluralism is quite common among American liberals.Starr, P. (2007). War and Liberalism. The New Republic, 236, 21-24.] A majority of liberals favor diplomacy over military action, stem-cell research, the legalization of same-sex marriage, secular government, stricter gun control and environmental protection laws as well as the preservation of abortion rights. They tend to be rather divided on free trade agreements and organizations such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Most liberals oppose increased military standing and the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings. Immigration and cultural diversity is deemed positive. As a result liberals favor cultural pluralism, a system in which immigrants retain their native culture in addition to adopting their new culture.

According to the Pew Research Center liberals particularly distinguished from any other typographic group by their socially progressive viewpoints. In 2004, liberals were the only group to advocate same sex marriage and euthanasia, a policy regarded as left of the Democratic Party. Among the most prominent liberal periodicals are The Nation, The American Prospect, The New Republic, and the Washington Post, as well as the New York Times. The New Republic described its political standing, giving a brief overview of contemporary American liberalism, in a June 2006 editorial stating it was "very much against the Bush tax programs, against Bush Social Security 'reform,' against cutting the inheritance tax, for radical health care changes, passionate about Gore-type environmentalism, for a woman's entitlement to an abortion, for gay marriage, for an increase in the minimum wage, for pursuing aggressively alternatives to our present reliance on oil and our present tax preferences for gas-guzzling automobiles"." [cite news | url= http://www.tnr.com/blog/theplank?pid=22305 | title=A Message From "TNR"S Lieberman-Loving NeoCon Owner | date=2006-06-23 | accessdate=2006-10-29 | author=Martin Peretz]

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[Liberals are] Predominantly white (83%), most highly educated group (49% have a college degree or more), and youngest group after Bystanders. Least religious group in typology: 43% report they seldom or never attend religious services; nearly a quarter (22%) are seculars. More than one-third never married (36%). Largest group residing in urban areas (42%) and in the western half the country (34%). Wealthiest Democratic group (41% earn at least $75,000). - Pew Research Center

Roughly 19% to 26% of the American public is liberal depending on survey and method.cite web|url=http://www.bipartisandisorder.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/ap-ipsos-thompson.pdf|title=Ipos Public affairs. (6 June, 2007). Associate Press Poll conducted by Ipos Public Affairs: Party Affiliation and Ideology.|accessdate=2007-07-13] Liberals vote mostly in favor of the Democratic Party constituting roughly 43% of the Democratic base.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/index.epolls.html|title=CNN. (2000). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2004). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2006). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] Liberalism tends to be most prominent in academia and among the well educated.cite web|url=http://www.academia.org/campus_reports/2002/october_2002_5.html|title=Chow, C. (October, 2002) New Study Reveals Extreme Partisan Bias Among Faculty. "Accuracy in Academia".|accessdate=2007-07-11] In 2004, 72% of full-time faculty members at four-year colleges identified as liberal.cite web|url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8427-2005Mar28.html|title=Kurtz, H. (29 March, 2005). College Faculties A Most Liberal Lot, Study Finds. "The Washington Post".|accessdate=2007-07-02] In a 2004 survey of 1,000 economists registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by a 2.5 to 1 ratio. The majority of economists favored "safety regulations, gun control, redistribution, public schooling, and anti-discrimination laws"," while opposing "tighter immigration controls, government ownership of enterprise and tariffs"."cite web|url=http://springerlink.metapress.com/content/w4q363786573275h/|title=Klein, D. B. & Stern, C. (6 December, 2004) Economists' policy views and voting. "Public Choice Journal".|accessdate=2007-07-02] Among sociologists and anthropologists, Democrats outnumber Republicans 20 to 1.cite web|url=http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/29/CMGHQP19VD1.DTL|title=Stannard, M. B. (29 April, 2007). Montgomery McFate's Mission Can one anthropologist possibly steer the course in Iraq?. "San Francisco Chronicle".|accessdate=2007-07-11] Analysis of survey results show a strong correlation between education and ideology. Generally, the more educated a person is, the more likely he or she is to be liberal.cite web|url=http://www.collegenews.org/x2782.xml|title=O'Bannon, B. R. (27 August, 2003). In Defense of the 'Liberal' Professor. "Indianapolis Star".|accessdate=2007-07-02]

Over the past decades the political outlook of Americans has become more progressive, with those below the age of thirty being considerably more liberal than the overall population. According to recent polls 56% of those age 18 to 29 favor gay marriage, 68% state environmental protection to be as important as job creation, 52% "think immigrants 'strengthen the country with their hard work and talents,'" 62% favor "tax financed, government-administrated universal health care" program and 74% "say 'people's will' should have more influence on U.S. laws than the Bible, compared to 37%, 49%, 38%, 47% and 58% among the general population.Rosenberg, S. & Leyden, P. (November - December, 2007). The 50-Year Strategy: Beyond '08: Can progressives play for keeps? (p. 63 - 66) "Mother Jones".]

Conservatism

In the United States modern conservatism coalesced in the latter half of the 20th century, responding over time to the political and social change associated with events such as the Great Depression, tension with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the American Civil Rights Movement, the counterculture of the 1960s, the deregulation of the economy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the overthrow of the New Deal Coalition in the 1980s, and the terrorist threat of the 21st century. Some of the most supported political issues among conservatives are economic liberalism, fiscal conservatism, and a form of social conservatism that is more appealing to the Christian Right. Conservatives tend to believe in a higher level of independence and self-reliance, and believe that the government should not get involved in private economic matters. Conservatives generally believe that having more economic freedom and a less social government will lead to a more responsible and efficient society. For this reason, most American conservatives believe in economic liberalism and fiscal conservatism.

The word "conservative" comes from "conserve," hence describing those who generally wish to conserve the status quo as well as conserve money by cutting excessive government spending on perceived unnecessary things. Recently, however, more and more conservatives have advocated policy that would quickly and dramatically change society. Views on policies vary among different sub-groups. Enterprisers, for example, are more likely to oppose a universal health coverage program, while Social Conservatives are in strong support of such legislation. Overall, a majority of conservatives oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, raising taxes as a method to balance the budget, while favoring increased military spending, supporting tax-cuts to allow economic stimulation by providing the tax payers with extra money that they are more likely to spend (as opposed to tax increases), restricting abortion options (many conservatives want to ban abortion altogether), and oppose stricter gun control laws often pleading that it is an infringement on the rights granted in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Conservatives are more likely to find the use of torture on suspected terrorists as an interrogation method usually justifiable, while most Social Conservatives favor teaching the conception of Creationism instead of the theory of Evolution in public schools.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13] Most conservatives in the United States are opposed to affirmative action, believing it to be unfair and that it only further promotes racism and discrimination. A race-blind system of meritocracy is now embraced by many American conservatives, as most believe it to be more fair and productive. Conservatives also tend to be more willing to display the American flag than Liberals by a wide margin. Three-quarters or more of the GOP groups (Enterprisers, Social and Pro-Government Conservatives) say they display the flag at home, at work, or on their car. Democratic groups show more variation: 72% of Conservative Democrats say they display the American flag, compared with 53% of Disadvantaged Democrats while just 41% of Liberals say they display the flag.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=945|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Demographics, Lifestyle and News Consumption - Lifestyle Notes: Showing the Flag.|accessdate=2007-07-13]

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The value gaps for the GOP are, perhaps surprisingly, greatest with respect to the role of government. The Republicans' bigger tent now includes more lower-income voters than it once did, and many of these voters favor an activist government to help working class people. Government regulation to protect the environment is an issue with particular potential to divide Republicans. On this issue, wide divisions exist both within the GOP and among right-of-center voters more generally... Yet Republicans also have much in common beyond their overwhelming support for a muscular foreign policy and broad agreement on social issues. - Pew Research Center, 2005

Roughly one third, 36%, to 40% of the American public identify as "conservative." Conservatives commonly outnumber liberals in the general public with both ideological groupings being outnumbered by centrists.cite web|url=http://www.bipartisandisorder.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/ap-ipsos-thompson.pdf|title=Ipos Public affairs. (6 June, 2007). Associate Press Poll conducted by Ipos Public Affairs: Party Affiliation and Ideology.|accessdate=2007-07-13] The military-industrial complex in particular remains a conservative bastion.cite web|url=http://www.spectacle.org/198/wilson.html|title=Wilson, B. (January 1998). The Conservative Military. "Spectacle".accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:GDeFkKSDCpoJ:www.lewrockwell.com/ips/lobe43.html+army+percent+Republican&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us|title=Lobe, J. (1 January, 2004). Military More Republican, Conservative Than Public – Poll. "LewRockwell.com".|accessdate=2007-07-11] A 2003 survey by the Military Times found that the "military considers itself clearly more conservative and Republican." In a December 2006 poll, 46% of active personnel identified as Republican, down from 60% in 2004. [cite web|url=http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-brooks5jan05,0,3406790.column?coll=la-opinion-center|author=Brooks, Rosa|date=2007-01-05|title= Weaning the Military from the GOP|work= Los Angeles Times|accessdate=2007-07-12 Another 2004 poll found that roughly 66% of military officers identified as Republicans compared to 32% among the general public.cite web|url=http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:GDeFkKSDCpoJ:www.lewrockwell.com/ips/lobe43.html+army+percent+Republican&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us|title=Lobe, J. (1 January, 2004). Military More Republican, Conservative Than Public – Poll. "LewRockwell.com".|accessdate=2007-07-11] In the 2000, 2004 and 2006 elections CNN exit polls found that roughly 80% of self-described conservatives voted Republican.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/index.epolls.html|title=CNN. (2000). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2004). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2006). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] A study by the Pew Research Center, where research assigned typological classifications based on responses to policy and ideological questions, found that a significant percentage of Democratic voters were social conservatives who only voted for the Democratic party due to their more left-leaning economic methods, as well as their long time affiliation with the party especially among Dixiecrats and African-Americans. This study divided conservatives into four groups: Enterprisers, Social Conservatives, Pro-Government Conservatives, and Conservative Democrats. Of the conservative groups, Conservative Democrats were the most common typological group comprising 14% of respondents while Enterprisers and Pro-Government Conservatives were the least common among the conservative groups at 9%. Enterprisers had the second highest percentage of college graduates (46%) behind Liberals, and were tied with Liberals percentage wise on those who have household incomes of $75,000 or more (41%), while actually having a higher percentage of people who have household incomes of $50,000 or more (62%). All conservative demographics were religious with less than 10% of respondents identifying as "secular," compared to 22% among liberals.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13]

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[Enterprisers are] Predominantly white (91%), male (76%) and financially well-off (62% have household incomes of at least $50,000, compared with 40% nationwide). Nearly half (46%) have a college degree, and 77% are married. Nearly a quarter (23%) are themselves military veterans. Only 10% are under age 30. - Pew Research Center, 2005

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[Social Conservatives are] Predominantly white (91%), female (58%) and the oldest of all groups (average age is 52; 47% are 50 or older); nearly half live in the South. Most (53%) attend church weekly; 43% are white evangelical Protestants (double the national average of 21%). - Pew Research Center, 2005

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[Pro-Government Conservatives are] Predominately female (62%) and relatively young; highest percentage of minority members of any Republican-leaning group (10% black, 12% Hispanic). Most (59%) have no more than a high school diploma. Poorer than other Republican groups; nearly half (49%) have household incomes of less than $30,000 (about on par with Disadvantaged Democrats). Nearly half (47%) are parents of children living at home; 42% live in the South. - Pew Research Center, 2005

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Older women and blacks make up a sizeable proportion of [Conservative Democrats] (27% and 30%, respectively). Somewhat less educated and poorer than the nation overall. Allegiance to the Democratic party is quite strong (51% describe themselves as "strong" Democrats) but fully 85% describe themselves as either conservative or moderate ideologically. - Pew Research Center, 2005

It is also shown by the Pew Research Center that conservatives tend to have stronger belief in personal empowerment than liberals. Among the wealthiest and most educated group of conservatives, the Enterprisers, 95% believed that most people can get ahead in life if they work hard. Despite having similar income and education levels, only 53% of Liberals agreed with Enterprisers on the issue while 39% disagreed and another 5% refused to answercite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=945|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Demographics, Lifestyle and News Consumption - Matters of Faith.|accessdate=2007-09-01] . Even among the poorest and least educated groups of both the conservatives (the Pro-Government Conservatives) and the left-wing (the Disadvantaged Democrats) these differences in opinion about personal empowerment are apparent. While 74% of Pro-Government Conservatives believed that people can get ahead with hard work, only 14% of Disadvantaged Democrats agreed while 79% disagreed and the other 7% refused to answercite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=945|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Demographics, Lifestyle and News Consumption - Personal Optimism a Dividing Line.|accessdate=2007-09-01] . This more pessimistic outlook upon life among members of the left-wing would further explain Liberal's strong willingness to financially support those suffering from poverty by way of social welfare and offer an advantage for minorities by way of affirmative action. This would also explain Disadvantaged Democrats strong support for additional economic support from the government for the lower class, and would also explain their support for a system that may improve their situation based on their gender and/or racial background.

Demographics of ideological groups

The socially progressive Liberals and staunchly conservative Enterprisers are tied as the two most affluent groups, while Liberals are the most educated. Liberals have a slightly higher percentage of college graduates than Enterprisers; 49% of versus 46% of Enterprisers. Bystanders, those who chose not to participate in the political process, have the least percentage of college graduates (11%) and are tied with Disadvantaged Democrats as the most financially distressed.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13] Generally, education and affluence increase the chances of an individual to be politically active. The professional class, which is relatively evenly divided among Democrats and Republicans,cite web|url=http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2003/07/11/dean/index.html|title=Judis, B. J. (11 July, 2003). The trouble with Howard Dean. "Salon.com".|accessdate=2007-07-19] is among the most politically active,cite book | last = Ehrenreich | first = Barbara | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1989 | title = Fear of Falling, The Inner Life of the Middle Class
publisher = Harper Collins | location = New York, NY | id = 0-06-0973331
] while those in the lower class - the working poor and underclass - commonly abstain from taking part in the political process.cite book | last = Gilbert | first = Dennis | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 1998 | title = The American Class Structure | publisher = Wadsworth Publishing | location = New York | id = 0-534-50520-1] The working class has become less politically active, partially due to a decline in the prevalence of labor unions.cite book | last = Zweig | first = Michael | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2004 | title = What's Class Got To Do With It, American Society in the Twenty-First Century | publisher = Cornell University Press | location = New York, NY | id = 0-8014-8899-0] As a result, the American electorate is considerably more affluent and educated than the general population. In the 2006 mid-term elections, for example, those with graduate degrees, who constitute 9% of the general population age 25 or older, comprised 16% of the electorate.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2006). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] All sizable socio-economic groups were relatively split between the two major parties in the 2000, 2004 and 2006 elections.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/index.epolls.html|title=CNN. (2000). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2004). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2006). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] Interestingly education, up to the undergraduate level, increased both a person's chances of being liberalcite web|url=http://www.collegenews.org/x2782.xml|title=O'Bannon, B. R. (27 August, 2003). In Defense of the 'Liberal' Professor. "Indianapolis Star".|accessdate=2007-07-02] and of him or her voting Republican. The contradiction is explained through moderate voters who tend to become more conservative as they become more economically prosperous.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=943|title=Pew Research Institute. (May 10, 2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue Republicans Divided About Role of Government - Democrats by Social and Personal Values.|accessdate=2007-07-13] At the post-graduate level, liberals outnumber conservatives and a majority commonly votes Democratic.cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/results/index.epolls.html|title=CNN. (2000). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2004). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11] cite web|url=http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/pages/results/states/US/H/00/epolls.0.html|title=CNN. (2006). Exit Poll.|accessdate=2007-07-11]

Ideological groups are distinguished by certain societal attributes, such as religion, marital status, education, and gun ownership, yet are relatively similar in terms of race and ethnicity. Generally liberals were more likely to be secular, single and in possession of a college degree, while less likely to own a gun. Conservatives, most of whom adhere to social as well as fiscal conservatism, tended to be far more religious and more likely to be married and own firearms. The majority of Social Conservatives and Pro-Government Conservatives attended church services once a week. Weekly churchgoers were also in the plurality among the general population and all ideological demographics, except liberals. Of liberals, a plurality, 43% attended church services "seldom or never," compared to 25% of respondents overall. Conservatives were also more likely to be married than Liberals or the Democratic voter base in general. The vast majority, 77% of Enterprisers were married compared to 44% of Liberals. Disadvantaged and Conservative Democrats had the highest union membership rates, 23% and 18%, compared to an overall 14%, respectively, as well as the highest percentage of minorities (Disadvantaged Democrats 55% Black, Hispanic, and Other; Conservative Democrats 46% Black, Hispanic, and Other). In terms of gun ownership, the majority of Enterprisers and Social Conservatives had a gun at home, compared to just 23% of Liberals. Liberals were the most educated group with 49% being college graduates compared to an average of 26.5% among all the conservative groups (including the Democratic voting Conservative Democrats). Disadvantaged Democrats were the least educated with only 13% having a college degree.

In terms of race, conservatives and liberals were fairly similar with more than 80% identifying as white and having been born in the United States. However, Republican voting conservatives like Enterprisers, Social Conservatives, and Pro-Government Conservatives had a higher white percentage than liberals, especially Enterprisers and Social Conservatives who were both 91% white compared to 83% of Liberals. Liberals were also the most likely of every group to be born outside of the United States with 20% of liberal respondents saying that they or their parents were born outside of the United States, while only around 12% of all conservative types answered "yes" to the same question.cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/tables/242.pdf|title=Pew Research Center, Spreedsheet, 2005 poll|accessdate=2007-07-13]

SOURCE: Pew Research Center, 2005cite web|url=http://people-press.org/reports/tables/242.pdf|title=Pew Research Center, Spreadsheet, 2005 poll|accessdate=2007-07-13]

ee also

*Democratic Party
*Republican Party
*Red states and blue states

References


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